May 11, 2013

Being an Introverted Pastor/Teacher

Sometimes when I read a blog or an article, it strikes a real chord in my heart.  The other day my wife pointed me to this post on the Desiring God blog that did just that.  I think it struck a chord in her heart on my behalf as well.  I believe that was because it put to words what I experience in my own life.

The blog was about a discussion with John Piper reflecting his 33 years in ministry.  The sentences that caught my attention were:
“It’s amazing how many introverts go into ministry,” Pastor John said of himself and others. But it’s true. For many pastors, hanging out with people is physically draining. “A lot of people would say that’s a bad thing; you should repent of that and turn around and either do something else, or start loving to hang out with people.” 
Or, he said, introverted pastors can use their strengths to intentionally love people. Extroverted pastors and introverted pastors, if they’re born again, both love people, but there remains a tension for the introverted pastor who defines love exclusively in terms of activities in the presence of people.
He went on to discuss how he learned to be who God had created him to be in ministry. It was encouraging to hear.  Mostly because I love the people of my church, genuinely love them, but I have always found personal interactions to be challenging.  Not because I don't want to interact, but I just don't feel good at it. Plus, I love just being at home with a book.

Piper goes on to say,
Plead with God to make your in-disposition to be with people a blessing to people. In other words, I would say after 33 years, my default after preaching is to go home and pray and read, not to hang out for three hours over a meal. That’s my disposition. I do hang out for an hour and pray with people, and I’m glad I do, and it is rewarding to do it.... If you're wired that way, instead of constantly praying God would make you another kind of person, pray that he would make you really useful for people. I think he’s done that for me.... 
I believe what people have benefited from me most is what I have seen in the Bible. I don’t think I have blessed Bethlehem much by being a good organizer or a good model of personal evangelism. I can list a lot of ways they have not benefited from me. But, if I don’t despair, if I say there’s been some good done, I know where it came from — it came from me taking notes over my Bible and wrestling to see how Hebrews 10:10 and 10:14 come together, that was this morning; seeing something I’ve never seen before in the text, and walking into a staff meeting and telling them; walking into a hospital room and telling her; walking into the pulpit and telling them what I saw. And then going home to see some more. 
Take what you see, and then if you’re a writer, you write it. If you’re a preacher, you preach it. If you’re a hanger-outer, tell the hanger-outters-with what you saw this morning.
You can read the entire article by clicking here, that will also take you to a link where you can watch/listen to the entire discussion that happened at Redeemer Bible Church.